Josh cannot come out to play today. Literally.
He is not allowed outside, or to watch TV, apparently, grounded like a misbehaving 13-year-old kid after an idiotic mistake by a Red Sox staffer during BP yesterday left him "mildly concussed" by a batted baseball.
Yesterday, before it was clear whether Beckett was concussed at all or at what severity, jokes were already being flung around about the incident. Even my dad was asking if anyone had checked the ball for a flat spot. Red from Surviving Grady suggested to me on Facebook that I start issuing worshipful paeans to Daisuke Matsuzaka instead, because it seems whenever I show a player the lurve, whether Pedroia last year, or Beckett this year, they go and get all broken in some way.
I'll also admit a chortle or two at the idea that Beckett is "not allowed outside" today. I also rather sardonically hope there's some kind of "handler" with him while he's trapped inside today, given guys like him tend to go stir-crazy pretty fast, and the last thing we need is Beckett with cabin fever rampaging through the clubhouse.
Things went beyond a chortle when Beckett, asked if he'd been concussed before, sheepishly smiled and said yes, but that it was "[way] back...[it was a] fight." This (along with the comment that his initial reaction after impact was to be "pissed" and no doubt look around for someone's ass to kick) at least assures us there have been no personality changes, and it's hard not to smile, as Beckett did, thinking about that comment.
All of that said, allow me to play Debbie Downer here for a minute -- because here was another comment in the interview above that made my blood run cold.
"Yesterday," Beckett said, "Was kind of nerve-wracking, because going up and down stairs was pretty tough."
That's right. This same guy:
...after being "mildly" concussed, struggled to go up and down a simple flight of stairs.
The idea makes me shudder, even if I know he's already stronger today, and is expected to be fine.
In that interview he also reminded me / us that this isn't his first near-miss, pointing out the time David DeJesus hit a ball off his "cabeza" last year in KC.
I don't know about you, but I'll also never forget watching what happened to Matt Clement live on TV. And then there's still the lingering PTSD from last year's siege at the hands of the Injury Bug, a feeling already eloquently summarized by SG:
After last year’s DL-apalooza, the last thing we wanted to hear coming out of spring training were any “Carl Crawford trips on ham sandwich” or “Adrian Gonzalez zapped by robots” headlines...To this, I can only say, “what the f#$k?”
More importantly, it was also astutely pointed out by poster "mabrowndog" on a SoSH thread yesterday that this raises a league-wide issue that has yet to be addressed:
After the tragic death of Mike Coolbaugh a few years back, I fully expected MLB and MiLB to work on developing some better headgear. Not just for 1st & 3rd base coaches to wear during games, but also anyone on the field during batting practice. It wouldn't even have to be a hard-shelled helmet, which are extremely uncomfortable for anything longer than a couple of minutes. A cap with some additional padding that covers the temples (and ears, if practical) would go a long way toward minimizing risk. Pitchers would also gain a better measure of protection from come-backers.
Granted these incidents are rarities, but I really thought the death of a first base coach during a game would make baseball's management realize how serious the risks are. I can't fathom any excuses other than concerns over aesthetics or outright ignorance.
Then again, it took MLB 30 years after the death of Ray Chapman to require batting helmets.
Baseball is thought of as a kind of prissy and gentle sport because of its pacing, or, at least, the pacing that's evident to fans who are not on the field. Then, every so often, a missile comes out of nowhere to remind us that this game, especially at a high level, can be morbidly dangerous, too.
A lot of things about this recent incident are funny, in a lot of ways (especially since Beckett is ok...and do I know people joke because they're scared, and then relieved).
But in a lot of other ways, I just want to be the one to say: it's really, really not.